The Fab 4th
From Laurence Juber...
When I started playing guitar in November 1963, the radio airwaves
were humming with twangy guitars and (as the critics were fond of
saying) ‘adenoidal’ vocals. The Beatles’ second UK album, With The
Beatles, was a week away from release and Abbey Road was six
years in the future.
That period frames my musical adolescence. The Fabs weren’t
alone in my playlist. The Stones, Beach Boys, Cream, Hendrix,
The pace of musical change in the 60’s was rapid. 1965, the year I
turned 13, was remarkable for its nexus of musical styles, when folk,
rock, blues, pop, R&B and classical began to merge.
That was the musical milieu that fueled my own obsession with six
strings: the siren song of wailing electric lead guitar, intricate
fingerpicking acoustic, Bach, Django and much more. That was
when I set my goal to be a session musician in London.
A little more than a decade later, that studio springboard would land
me the gig as Paul McCartney’s lead guitarist in Wings.
Subsequently, recording with Ringo Starr and George Harrison help
to cement my status as ’Beatles-adjacent.’ I relaunched my studio
career in Los Angeles as a guitarist, composer and producer, while
raising a family, and releasing a series of well-received solo
fingerstyle guitar recordings.
My wife Hope first suggested the idea of an album of solo
arrangements of Beatles tunes more than twenty years ago. I was
reluctant at first, considering myself primarily a composer, not an
arranger. But, then I figured that as she listens to me play for so
many hours a day, it was only fair to devote a portion of that time to
In return, she took on the role of producer.
As the arranging unfolded, I found myself ever-more deeply drawn,
both as a guitarist and a musician, to the depth and dimension of
their creativity. Stripping the songs down to their musical essentials
exposes their uniquely nuanced musicality, while seeking the
complementary guitaristic space, is an exercise in my own creativity.
Little did I realize at the time, that LJ Plays The Beatles, would
become the first of an evolving series, with a volume two, a volume 3
(LJ Can’t Stop Playing The Beatles) and, at Paul McCartney’s
instigation, One Wing.
Hope’s idea for a title, The Fab 4th, was the call to action once more.
There are almost 200 original Beatles compositions. Not all translate
well to the fingerboard, although there have been some
serendipitous moments, when an unlikely candidate revealed itself
as a cool arrangement.